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US Navy eyes March 23 deadline for extricating USS Guardian from Tubbataha

February 12, 2013 1:10pm

The United States Navy has submitted to Philippine authorities a revised salvage plan that aims to extricate the grounded minesweeper USS Guardian by March 23.

"In their latest salvage proposal submitted to us, they are looking at finishing the salvage works by March 23. Of course, this timeline will only hold if everything works out to plan," Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said in a report of the state-run Philippine News Agency.

On Tuesday, in an interview with radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo, Balilo said the revised plan will be anchored on the crane ship JASCON 25 instead of the SMIT Borneo.

Balilo said the JASCON 25 is expected to arrive in the Philippines from Singapore on Saturday, Feb. 16.

The ship will begin salvage operations for the USS Guardian almost immediately upon arrival, he added.

The US Navy indicated the JASCON 25's advantage over the SMIT Borneo, which arrived in the Philippines earlier this month, is that it is more stable and less prone to anchoring problems.

Earlier, the SMIT Borneo had problems starting salvage work since it could not drop anchor properly.

On the PNA report, Balilo said JASCON 25 is being eyed as the main vessel for the salvage, with SMIT Borneo only as a support ship, Balilo said.

The USS Guardian ran aground off Tubbataha Reef last Jan. 17, and may have damaged an estimated 4,000 square meters of the heritage site. - VVP, GMA News
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